An Introduction to the Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge

An Introduction to the Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge
Dirk Jongkind
Crossway, 2019

The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge (short title Tyndale House Edition, abbreviated as THGNT) was released in 2017. The most well-known name associated with it is Peter J Williams. This is a 120 page introduction to the particular features of that edition – though it also answers bigger questions, about how we got the Bible, what textual criticism involves, etc. Although ‘through the ages the existence of textual variants has been seen as a danger to, or an argument against, the notion of the divine nature of the Scriptures’, Jongkind disagrees. The book is concise, though most of it is probably aimed at seminary level and above.

In terms of the manuscripts, Jongkind believes ‘no single textual family has preserved the best wording of the text’. A chapter entitled ‘Why not the Received Text?’, makes a number of helpful points. Firstly, Jongkind identifies this as a uniquely Protestant problem, saying ‘I don’t know of any Christians within Eastern Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism who defend the Textus Receptus’. He also points out that ‘Accepting the Textus Receptus as the authoritative text of the New Testament means that one accepts the printed text of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. In practice, this means that even if the Textus Receptus offers a text not found in any Greek manuscript dating from before the published editions, still the Greek text of a printed edition is accepted. An example is Revelation 22:19: the Textus Receptus has βίβλου τῆς ζωῆς, “book of life,” instead of ξύλου τῆς ζωῆς, “tree of life,” as all Greek manuscript evidence testifies’. He then goes on to answer the question ‘So why are defenders of the Textus Receptus willing to go against all preserved evidence?’

Jongkind uses an Old Testament example to argue that God’s Word ‘has always been available to the church, though sometimes with more clarity than at other times. This is even illustrated in the biblical history itself. Who knew the details of the law in the days immediately before the rediscovery of the scroll in the temple during Josiah’s reign (2 Kings 22)? As far as the historical evidence suggests, not everyone has had access at all times to the perfect, original wording of the New Testament’.

An introduction to a Greek New Testament obviously isn’t for everyone. It’s also quite expensive for what it is. But for a conservative evangelical, and yet bang up-to-date, approach to textual criticism, it is well worth having. A good alternative for the layperson would be Peter J William’s Can we trust the gospels?

Thanks to Crossway for a complimentary copy of this book through their Beyond the Page review programme.

Textual Criticism for Dummies

One issue that we can’t ignore when it comes to the Bible is that sometimes those using certain Bible versions have extra words, and occasionally verses and even passages that most Bible versions don’t have. This difference is due to the different Greek manuscripts that the translations are based on.

Often debates about this can get emotive and heated – especially when the ‘missing’ words are claimed to have a special importance. One less emotive passage however is in Colossians 1v2: ‘To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.’

That’s from the ESV – some translations however add the words – ‘and the Lord Jesus Christ’, which fits with how Paul starts his other letters. Why do they do that? Or should they always have been there in the first place?

In the sermon below (from just before the 18 minute mark), Dave Reese sets out the problem and explains how we can know which is right.